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December 3rd, 2012
10:17 AM ET

A gun control halftime show: Should Bob Costas have spoken out on Belcher suicide?

There are a few things you can usually expect out of an NFL halftime show. A debate about gun control isn't one of them.

But Sunday wasn't a normal day in the NFL. It was two days after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and the mother of his child, before killing himself outside the front door of the Chiefs' practice facility.

It was shocking. And it was expected that this tragedy would seep through into Sunday's football coverage.

But many people were not expecting Bob Costas to make a plea for gun control.

During halftime of NBC's "Sunday Night Football," Costas blamed the nation's gun culture for what happened between Belcher and his girlfriend, remarks that set off a heated debate about whether the sportscaster should have launched into what some called a "rant" on gun control.

Here's a transcript of Costas' comments:

"Well, you know that it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again: Something like this really puts it all in perspective.

Well, if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please, those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective.

You want some actual perspective on this? Well, a bit of it comes from a Kansas City based-writer, Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree but who today said it so well today that we may as well as quote or paraphrase from the end of his article.

‘Our current gun culture,' Whitlock wrote,  '... ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenaged boys bloody and dead. ...

'Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.'

In the coming days, Jovan Belcher's actions and their possible connections to football will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, wrote Jason Whitlock is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today." (You can read Whitlock's column here.)

Costas' remarks seemed to send the Internet into an immediate feeding frenzy.  Was it appropriate for him to talk about a political issue during a sports show? What is the right forum for this kind of discussion? Was he only saying what everyone else was already thinking? The comments kept flying:

Costas declined to comment on his remarks.

Gun control has always been divisive. If you remember, it had been practically impossible to get the presidential candidates to talk about the issue. "Saturday Night Live" even mocked the candidates' avoidance of it during a skit on the presidential debates.

There was equal outrage online Sunday regarding CBS' football preshow, which took five minutes before mentioning the tragedy and seemed to feature more about a Victoria's Secret fashion show and hard-hitting commentary about the color of the anchors' ties instead of a serious issue.

The main point here may be you can't please everybody. There will always be critics when it comes to an issue that sparks such intense debate. But does that mean you don't even touch it? Or did Costas' comments do exactly what he may have intended reigniting the debate over gun control?

Opinion: Manhood, football and suicide

Let us know how you feel about Costas' remarks in the polls below and sound off in the comments. We'd love to hear your take on the issue.

soundoff (1,256 Responses)
  1. Annemarie Matulis

    As others have said, Costas & the reporter missed the point, big time. Suicide or violence are not about the gun. This country has miserably failed those at risk, young and old, who need medical/mental health care to address the underlying causes. As a 30-year advocate for domestic violence, the reporter's comment read by Costas are not only offensive but again, missed the point. How about really looking at how anyone that emotionally disturbed got that way in the first place? Most suicides are preventable but that requires being well informed enough to recognize the escalating signs & symptoms. Yet very few are willing to set aside time to become trained. I'm not a gun advocate. The real issue here is us – what will it take to recognize we are our "brother's keepers" and we need to reach out & get involved.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Excitizen

    "Thats right, if he wanted her dead gun or no gun she would be dead."

    This is the most lame and overused argument regarding gun control on the planet. Please people, do a little research on your computer and see that in almost EVER SINGLE INSTANCE in countries with restrictive gun laws or bans there are less murders/voilence, even when you account for the difference in populations. This is the same catch phrase mentality that is rampant in the U.S. today, i.e. if you say it enough times, it becomes the truth – this is becuase people just aren't interested in the truth; just what serves their cause. The facts are out there and you cannot make them go away no matter how many times you say it.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Baby Doc

      Not true.

      While gun violence went down in England and Australia, violent crime increased. It just means the criminals have no fear that their victims will/can fight back.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. intenseme

    Let me get this straight, just because a man (who is a high profile individual) kills his girlfriend then because he is now so distraught over doing so decides to take his own live in front of other people becomes the focus of gun control, PALESE, Bob Costos should be banned from ever doing another football game. Blaming the nation's gun culture for what happened is ludicrous and if Jovan Belcher did not have a gun and wanted to kill his girlfirend he could have used oh let's say a bow and arrow, (don't hear anything about bow and arrow control), as did the man use to kill his dad.
    Point being, Bob Costas needs to stick with commentating and everyone needs to stop blaming guns. If they outlaw guns or even try to control them people will just use something else to kill people with and then lets see if Bob Costas pipes up.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jam

    If this guy didn't have a gun he would have found another way to take her life and his life. I wouldn't expect any less of a reaction from Costas nor NBC for that matter. Costas couldn't even use his own words but to paraphrase someone else. The only thing missing was Chris Collingsworth weighing in with his liberal bias. Not even an on-air rolling of the eyes! Disappointing but, mostly, pitiful ...

    December 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Barbara

    If I kill someone with a pencil, is the pencil at fault. Maybe we need to outlaw pencils. No, I know, people are killed every day by automobiles. Should we outlaw auto's? Of course not Tens of thousands are killed by alcohol every day, but that's still legal too. My Second Amendment Rights are guaranteed to me. I have the right to keep and bear arms. Not just long guns, but any gun. Mr. Costas doesn't seem to care that head injuries, and steroids kill too. And yes, I cling to my religion, and my guns.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. theicus

    Bob Costas must believe since his job of talking football on national TV, makes him smarter then most of us. I would like to know what makes him think his opinions about anything but football matters to the public that tunes in to watch a football game? Who is to say if he didn't have a gun, that he would not have used a kitchen knife, and if he had, would he be calling for controlls on kitchen knives? That is the problem with people in the public eye, they seem to believe because of their position, they need to enlighten us common folks. Bob all you are is a talking head on TV, and maybe an expert on a game, that has no real meaning in our life.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. brad

    I don't think the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" or "outlaw kitchen knives, baseball bats, etc." argument is a valid one. Are there other mechanisms to kill people – absolutely! That said, I'm less likely to vacation to Europe if I have to swim there as opposed to taking a plane. It's easy to pull the trigger. Alcohol, Drugs, Domestic Disputes, Concussions, etc. all make it even easier. It's a split second decision that changes lives forever. I just think people are much more likely to make a regrettable decision with an armed handgun than with a baseball bat, kitchen knife, etc.

    December 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Shawn

    Bob Costas talked about gun exacerbating our flaws. Humans have been offing themselves and others since we arrived on the planet over 12,000 years ago. Did we have guns 12,000 years ago? No, we did not. Is banning guns going to prevent that behavior? No, it is not. Putting a weapon in someone's hand does not make them a killer. It is simply a tool, and nothing more. And a person can use just about any object to kill someone with, so if we ban guns, should we ban everything else too? List any object and I bet there has been at least one murder committed with one of those objects.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • luvuall

      If guns are just a tool like a baseball bat why not let kids have them? Kids have baseball bats so what's the difference. Do you see the problem with your logic now? Guns aren't just ordinary tools: they are highly specialized killing tools (killing for hunting as well as for homicide) so let's not pretend they are like any other tool. Gun advocates are going to have to formulate stronger arguments than yours or in 10 years gun will be illegal (not gone just illegal). And when stun guns get good enough to become the norm for police you will have to toss out the defense argument -and that day is coming too.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wardawg

    Guess what, this is not news. Another person was murdered, a gun was used. So what. A gun will be used for murder in a domestic dispute between 20 and 30 times over the next month in America. We love guns, guns are not going anywhere, so I don't care anymore and neither should anyone else. Americans die from gun violence everyday, oh well.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Name*Ron

    The NFL players are some of the most privleged in the country. With that said they are increasingly abusjng thar privlege.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Tom

    Where was this outrage with Michael Vick? Where was the sympathy for the dogs? He went to jail, and was welcomed back to the National Felon League... He should be banned for life, and it seems everyone wants to forget what he had done.

    I would be curious to see the REAL (not the one that will be released) corners report from Belcher's autopsy and see what steroids and other drugs he may have been on at the same time, or may have a history of taking...

    And don't forget, the NFL is a NON PROFIT...

    December 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Mike O

    The guy in Wyoming used a knife and killed more (2 others, then himself). Lets ban knives!
    On that same day, there was a tragedy in Cleveland's training facility where a worker hung himself Let's ban ropes!

    December 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Name*Ron

    The NFL players are increasingly abusing their privileged status. They feel they are above the law and can do anything they like. Had he not killed his girlfriend with a gun he would have killed her some other way. Gun control had nothing to do with it. Abuse of power had everything to do with it. Costas was dead wrong!

    December 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • luvuall

      Guns just make it too easy. Without guns we might still have had a murder but I seriously doubt we would have had a murder-suicide. Taking away everyone's guns isn't the answer but something needs to be done. Right now how about some compassion or prayer for the grieving families.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Common Sense

    I am truly and deeply saddened by this tragic event. How ever we the people need to keep in mind that guns do not kill people. People kill people. If it was not a gun it would be at the mercy of his own hands. The last time I checked a gun never went off on its own multiple times to deliberately kill some one. It was always at the hand of a human. The point is if he wanted to do it he would have done it by any means. I do not think this was the right place or time to start a liberal debate on gun control.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jake

      "guns don't kill people, people kill poeple"....yeah, but 90% of the time, they do it with a gun.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • s kel

      Im a democratic liberal. I own three weapons. Do I belive in strict gun control ? Yes I do. Do I belive this panic that the nra and most right wing republicans are spilling about some conspirsy of the Fed govt wanting to disarm us all??? You have to be very very ignorant to belive that. But the right wing conseritive fear is spreading. Thats because most conseritives think they are reasonable thinkers, but they are only fear reactors! Bring it on rush,sara,newt, michelle, bill bring on the fear.lol!

      December 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Excitizen

      "Guns don't kill people. People kill people" is the lames catch phrase of the NRA and those who don't let actual facts get in the way. In almost EVERY INSTANCE countries who have strict gun laws or outright bans have MUCH LESS murder and gun deaths even when you allow for differences in population. These are actual facts for those who are interested in more than just furthering their own personal agenda.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCheng

      " I do not think this was the right place or time to start a liberal debate on gun control."

      Point is, there's been NO time that's a good time for a debate on gun control. Candidates won't touch it, on either side.

      Noone mentions gun control when the news is quiet. Money talks, and money (in this case, the NRA) can buy silence, too.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • moralone

      Earlier this month I heard a woman killed her herself and boyfriend with a kitchen knife. This is followed by a woman who suffucated her two children with a pillow then her her husband with a sword. Uhm, which one should we restrict first, the knife, the sword or the pillow. Its not about guns. Its a common lack of respect for others. Bob Costas and the other liberal kick rocks.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Netmonger

      Yes guns do kill people. Guns picked up and fired in a moment of anger. Guns fired by someone who hasnt been properly trained. Guns fired by someone who isnt mature enough for a gun. Guns bought by someone who shouldnt have a firearm. Guns romanticized in the media and in male culture. The problem *IS* the guns 'dude. People get angry. People get upset. 'Aint going to stop that. Stricter gun control and education, WILL lessen violence like this. And there is no reason whatsoever that assault rifles and stuff should be legal. Thats just totally insane.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • brad

      The 'guns don't kill people" and "outlaw baseball bats, kitchen knives" etc. arguments are poor ones. Are the other ways to kill people – yes. That said, I'm less likely to eat butter if I have to churn it myself. Point is, pulling the trigger is an effortless split second decision. It's a split second decision that has life ending / lifelong consequences that are oftentimes regretted by the shooter. Throw alcohol, heated domestic disputes and concussions into the mix and it's even more dangerous.

      It's my opinion that in a lot of cases the same nightclub dispute or domestic disagreement would not end in murder with unarmed participants. In my city, Philadelphia, people are shot every weekend as bars close over dumb drunk disputes that escalate (somebody stepped on someone's shoe). I'm yet to hear of someone beaten to death by a blunt object or stabbed 100 times in this type of scenario.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rudy

    I'm boycotting in NBC programs unless Costas is fired.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • wardawg

      I'm sure you will make a difference...........in your own mind.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Since I, and many others have contacted NBC with a similar message, your position may make an important difference. I suggested they ship him over to MSNBC with his like-minded "newsies" (I couldn't shame my wife's profession by using the term "journalists").

      December 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
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